George Winston grew up mainly in Montana, and also spent his later formative years in Mississippi and Florida. During this time, his favorite music was instrumental rock and instrumental R&B, including Floyd Cramer, the Ventures, Booker T & The MG’s, Jimmy Smith, and many more. Inspired by R&B, Jazz, Blues and Rock (especially the Doors), George began playing organ in 1967. In 1971 he switched to the acoustic piano after hearing recordings from the 1920s and the 1930s by the legendary stride pianists Thomas “Fats” Waller and the late Teddy Wilson. In addition to working on stride piano, he also came up with this own style of melodic instrumental music on solo piano, called folk piano. In 1972, he recorded his first solo piano album, Ballads and Blues (1972), for the late guitarist John Fahey’s Takoma label.
His latest solo piano release is Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions 2: A Louisiana Wetlands Benefit. Integrating his musical passions with those that have greatly influenced him, including various New Orleans piano, jazz, R&B and rock styles, Winston conveys a sense of life through his music, with a sensibility of the seasons and topographies of Mother Earth.
Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions 2 benefits the work of groups such as The Voice of the Wetlands organization, which was established by musician Tab Benoit in 2004 as a volunteer-based non-profit organization, to raise awareness and develop educational outlets & programs about the loss of the wetlands in southern Louisiana, and today to also help heal the damage from the oil spill.
Since 1980 George has released ten other solo piano albums: Autumn (1980), Winter into Spring (1982), December (1982), Summer (1991), Forest (1994), Linus & Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi (1996), which features compositions by the late jazz pianist, including “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” and pieces from the Peanuts TV specials; Plains (1999), which was inspired by his Eastern Montana upbringing, Night Divides the Day – The Music of The Doors (2002), Montana – A Love Story (2004), Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions – A Hurricane Relief Benefit (2006) and Love Will Come – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Vol. 2 (2010).
Also, in 2001 George released Remembrance – a Memorial Benefit, a six song CD of piano, guitar and harmonica solos, to benefit those affected by 9/11. He has also worked with the late George Levenson of Informed Democracy (www.informeddemocracy.com) on three projects: a solo guitar soundtrack for Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, and soundtracks of piano, guitar and, harmonica solos for Pumpkin Circle and Bread Comes to Life. In 1984 he also did the solo piano soundtrack for the children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit for Rabbit Ears Productions.
George is presently concentrating mainly on live performances, and most of the time he is touring playing solo piano concerts (the Summer Show or the Winter Show), solo guitar concerts, solo harmonica concerts, and solo piano dances (with R&B and slow dance songs).
He is also studying the playing of the great New Orleans pianists Henry Butler, James Booker, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and Jon Cleary, and he is also working on interpreting pieces on solo piano by his favorite composers, including Vince Guaraldi, Professor Longhair, the Doors, Frank Zappa, Randy Newman, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Laura Nyro, Al Kooper, Dr. John, Henry Butler, James Booker, Jon Cleary, Ralph Towner, Arthur Lee, Milt Jackson, John Hartford, Oliver Schroer, Taj Mahal, Philip Aaberg, and others, to play at concerts, and at his solo piano dances.
George is also working on solo guitar and is recording the masters of the Hawaiian Slack Key guitar for an extensive series of albums for Dancing Cat Records (www.dancingcat.com). Slack Key is the name for the beautiful solo finger-style guitar tradition, unique to Hawaii, which began in the early 1800s and predated the steel guitar by over half a century. He is also recording his main inspirations for his harmonica playing - Sam Hinton, Rick Epping, and Curt Bouterse.